As of September 2013, a new and vicious form of malware has been wreaking havoc.
CryptoLocker belongs to a family of malware called “ransomware”, which is designed to extort money from victims by denying them access to their personal files. It targets all Windows Operating Systems, from Windows XP to Windows 8, and typically remains unnoticed by victims until it’s too late and the damage to their files is irreparable.
These days, many people store everything on their computers, from important documents to music and family photos. Malware that affects CryptoLocker files can be devastating. Once CryptoLocker has infiltrated a computer, it holds files hostage by encrypting them with a unique key. It then displays a pop-up ransom note with instructions to pay approximately US$300 within 72 hours or the encryption key will be destroyed and the files will become unrecoverable.
Because of the complex encryption strategy it utilizes, malware of this type is nearly impossible to remediate once it has infected a computer. Antivirus software alone cannot break the encryption, and, due to the time limit for the ransom, a live technician would also be ineffective. The only way to unlock the files is by using the unique decryption key, so there is no way to retrieve the private decryption key without paying the ransom. The best protection against such infections requires a preventive approach.
In this case, the best defense is a great offense. Be proactive in your data backups, and make sure you have a good antivirus in place. Salem County Technologies offers ESET NOD 32 antivirus to our customers for $39.99 per year and free installation. There are other solutions, and I encourage you to research which options would be best for you.
Since CryptoLocker cannot be undone once you are infected, the two solutions are: A) Pay the ransom, or B) Wipe your hard drive and restore from backup.
There are several choices for backups as well. Carbonite offers unlimited online backup for your home or business for only $59.00/year. Try it free! Alternately, you can take a look at some external hard drives, or check out other solutions.
True security against ransomware infections requires a proactive,preventive protection method. By leveraging global threat data delivered from the cloud, Keep in mind, however, that remaining protected from malware does not depend solely on adequate preventive security measures, but also depends on responsible usage practices. In addition to Internet security software, avoiding suspicious emails, attachments or links; making sure the OS and applications are up to date; and backing up data regularly will ensure that your system or network are protected from online threats like CryptoLocker.
Some information taken from Webroot.com